AJ Mullican is a multigenre author of New Adult and Adult fiction. Her debut novel, WHISPERS OF DEATH, reached bestseller status on Amazon, as have a couple of box sets she has contributed to. Her next upcoming release is ESCAPE THE LIGHT, the sequel to her 2018 novel ABNORMAL.
Publishing is fun. Creating stories, creating people and situations and entire worlds, winding stories together, weaving words….
The business side of publishing, however, sucks.
Okay, maybe there are some business-minded types who enjoy that side of publishing. I, however, am not one of those types. I know how to tweet and post on Instagram and Facebook…but managing the media accounts, interacting with my followers, and garnering new followers? Yeah, I suck at that. Then, on top of all that, you have to maneuver social media while you write your next piece! What the actual hell??
For instance, I just spent the last half hour recording a reading of my new pre-order for an indie art/author show. I could have been writing, but I couldn’t miss this opportunity to get the first few pages out there in the wild for others to hear.
I still have other marketing-ish things to do this morning as well. There’s the list-aiming box set that I’m part of…gotta get some fresh promo material made up for a new wave of social media posting, plus find some newsletter swaps for the next month or so. Then there’s my new release from last month, which hasn’t gotten much love lately. Oh, and of course, my new pre-order. Gotta market that, too. Sheesh!
Also have the day job today. Can’t forget that.
I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll have it all down. I just wish that day would come sooner.
Is this really what it’s come to? Are egotistical, bull-headed celebrities the only choices we’re going to be left with?
First, it was the whole sexist-orange-bastard-ruling-the-country scenario that somehow came to be. Then, just when I thought the joke was over, it kept getting worse. Now, with the coming of the Age of the Apocalypse (a.k.a. the shit show that is 2020 A.D.), we’ve got another megalomaniacal rich boy who thinks he can run things. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse than the hell we’ve been living the past 3 1/2 years.
Many of you might not know that the premise of the Council in Abnormal came directly from the Clown-in-Chief. When I was picturing the Old U.S. of the future, I tried to theorize what type of government we might end up with, if things kept along the path they’re on right now. I got to thinking, “What if these rich assholes just keep taking over? What if rich ends up equaling powerful? What if rich equals ruling class?” Thus, the governing oligarchical Council was born.
What’s an oligarchy? Well, good ol’ Miriam Webster has it all laid out for you:
Definition of oligarchy
1: government by the few The corporation is ruled by oligarchy. 2: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes a military oligarchy was established in the country also: a group exercising such control An oligarchy ruled the nation. 3: an organization under oligarchic control That country is an oligarchy.
Okay, so #3 is kind of one of those definitions-that-use-the-word-in-the-definition, but you get my (and Miriam Webster’s) drift. Small, corrupt group in charge. That’s the Council, and that’s where my mind saw the 2016 election fiasco leading us.
Fast-forward almost four years, and look: another rich idiot wants to take charge. Still just one person, right? Except for some strange reason, Elon Musk is backing him. That’s a slippery slope, because Musk has shittons of money, and he could easily be pulling good ol’ Mr. West’s strings. If that happens, we have a couple of things potentially happening: a second money-driven rule, and a merging of technology and government that could easily lead to a Council-type situation.
It’s like they’re writing the prequel for me.
Do I really think West could win? If you’d asked me four plus years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face. Now? Now, I worry.
For almost four full years now, I’ve been ashamed to be an American. I used to take at least a little bit of pride in my country, a little bit of patriotism, but now? Holy shit, now I wish I had the resources to go buy a private island and create my own little sovereign nation. I couldn’t do much worse, right? I mean, as long as I had electricity, internet access, and Amazon delivery, I’d be golden.
Dreams such as that are fleeting and unattainable, however. I’m stuck here in this back-asswards nation, living in some fucked-up reality show where we’re pretty sure there are hidden cameras but we can’t find them, and where we half expect Ashton Kutcher to jump out and tell us we’ve been Punk’d.
Hell, most of us probably are praying that we’ve been Punk’d.
Will this new development become story fodder? Abso-fucking-lutely. I’m not letting a gem like this slip out of my grubby little mitts. My Abnormal prequel story, which has yet to be written, now is churning away in the back of my brain, plots swirling about. I almost wish I hadn’t “jumped forward” as far in time as I did with Abnormal, because I can see the dystopian future rising much faster than my original “timetable” had it. I can still make it work, though. Just gotta get it all straight in the ol’ noggin.
I’m not super hopeful for the future. In fact, aside from trying to predict how the future world of Abnormal came to be, I really don’t want to think about it too much, at least not in a national or global sense. Let me have my little microcosm of AJ’s Future and keep The Big Picture out of my mind.
So, while Fed by the Fae is still stalled (for the most part), I did make progress on several other projects this morning, and, though minor progress, it’s got my creative gears in motion.
Recently, I was invited to a Facebook group for authors interested in participating in themed box sets. I’ve been in a few boxed sets so far, and they’ve been fun, so I joined to see what all the hubbub was about.
I’m now signed up for nine box sets, only one of which I already have a story for. That means eight novellas to write! Good thing they’re spread out between now and late 2022. Lol I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me, because though novellas don’t take me as long to write as novels, I still have to do all the work.
My little OCD self has already designed covers for the eight unwritten novellas, (the ninth will be an excerpt from Abnormal, with just the first 14 chapters), and I’ve gotten 6 out of 8 started on the planning stage of things. I’ve got a title for each of them as well, so once I get to each novella’s “turn” in the lineup, I’ll be good to go!
Now, all this added work doesn’t mean the Abnormal series is gone by the wayside. No, as soon as I’m done with the Bargains Struck paranormal romance trilogy, I’m going to get back to Book 4 and start that sucker going. I might even end up being one of those authors who has multiple works-in-progress going at once. I may need to become one of those authors, because I keep taking on more and more and more! LOL
Maybe that’s what Fed by the Fae needs–a little break while I dive into something else. Maybe I’ll start Book 3 of Bargains Struck, or maybe I’ll get Abnormal Book 4 going, then go back to FbtF. We’ll see.
I’m excited that I have made progress (even though it’s not on the story I most want to finish). Creativity can be a fickle bitch, so I’m extremely grateful for what little creative energy I can summon in this crazy time.
You’ll definitely be seeing more of my writing in the next couple of years, that much is certain. Most will be paranormal romance, but there will be a prequel novella to Abnormal in among the others, which will have little to no romance in it. That one’s setting up for the Abnormalverse, and though it’s one of the two I haven’t started planning yet, I’ll get to it soon enough.
In order to get organized with my newly-busy author self (and in preparation for the SCA eventually opening back up for events on the weekends), I ordered a bigger planner from Amazon. This one’s standard letter-sized paper, with bigger areas for writing down events/deadlines/notes/etc. Plus, I couldn’t resist the cover:
LOL It certainly fits my transition from pantser to plantser!
Here’s to a great, productive couple of years coming up, and to many more!
Okay. I’ve gotten a few hundred words written in the past week. That’s my worst word count rate in probably close to six months, if not more, and it worries me.
I have a lot on my writing plate, between the trilogy I’m currently working on, the ongoing Abnormal series, and the multitude of novellas I’ve signed up to put into anthologies. With all of that, it’s a miracle that I’ve got any creative energy left! I have to keep on trucking, though, and I have to find my pace again.
I’m close to a breakthrough on my current active WIP, but it’s that almost-there-but-not-quite/evasive kind of close. I know what needs to happen, but not the words to get me there.
I wish I could blame it on returning to the workforce, but to be honest, it started a little before that. Maybe I burned myself out on the wolf shifter RH novel I churned out in a little over a month…or maybe it’s just my frame of mind. Either way, I need to get back to it.
Little distractions are hindering me more than they should, too. For instance, I often find myself in a semi-fugue state, scrolling Facebook mindlessly for hours without realizing that I’ve stopped interacting with my WIP–and with reality. That nasty little habit has to be stopped, or at least mitigated somehow, because it’s not helping anything progress.
There! I just fucking did it again! I swear, I was focused on making this blog post, but next thing I know, I’ve been on Facebook for ten minutes. Ugh.
Maybe once I get the planner I ordered in the mail (should be here Wednesday) I’ll be in a better frame of mind because I’ll be better organized. I’ve found that I need some kind of structure when I’m writing, even though I started as a freeballing pantser. I guess this pantser-turned-plantser is evolving and mutating into a hybrid, a pantser with planner tendencies.
Guess I should quit bitching and chase down this ghost of a plot bunny that might get me back on track.
As I sit and try to mentally prepare to get ready for starting my fourth week back at work after the five weeks of doctor-ordered quarantine, I find my mind full of a swirling mass of stuff, muddled and heavy.
First off, my new release, The Mage Asylum Trilogy, started off strong the day I put it up for preorder, as you can see below:
Into the top 50 of the paranormal erotica new releases within hours of the preorder going live. That quickly slid down–but the next morning, I had been bumped by other releases–but I have the evidence that it was there. I managed to get 19 copies sold the first day it was live (most preorders), and I’ve had some say they want to order the physical book. I jacked things up with the release, though, because I didn’t realize that Amazon wouldn’t let me put the paperback up for preorder, so I ended up with a clusterfuck mess of “Oh, shit, the paperback is live now but the ebook won’t be live for weeks! I’d better adjust the ebook live date and–oh, for fuck’s sake, now I have to change the date of the release day party I’d planned, plus change ALL my promo stuff, plus….” Yeah. It was a hot mess.
Then, in the midst of that whole fiasco (along with now being back at work), the pace has picked up with one of the two USA Today Bestseller List-aiming box sets I’m part of. I had to suddenly get X number of preorders from X retailers and set up at least one newsletter swap for our “push day” (not the release day, but a day when our publisher has decided to make a push for more sales/contacts/exposure). Add another thought to the swirling mass in my head.
Oh, and speaking of box sets…..Yeah, I kinda signed up for three more of them. None of the new ones are list-aiming, and none are due before July of 2021, but that adds three works-in-progress to my ever-growing list. There are two more sets that I want to join, but my wallet says “NO!” You see, if you’re not in the publishing world you may not know, but these sets are generally not free to join. It’s not a huge amount, but each author has to pay a buy-in upon acceptance into the set to help pay for production costs. Cover design, formatting, ads, that kind of stuff. It’s perfectly reasonable–and it adds up. I can’t add the two new sets I want to join, which makes me sad, but I have to stop myself at some point, I guess. I suppose I could go ahead and plan stories based on the theme, to release on my ownsome, but….No. Better stop myself now.
Work is work is work. Stress weighs on my shoulders for 7-8 hours a day, and then I get home and spend the next couple of hours before bedtime shrugging that weight off. I spend the weekend decompressing, then come Monday I’m back to it all over again.
I’m still plugging away at Book 2 of the Bargains Struck trilogy I’m working on. Book 2 is slow going, partially because of the abrupt halt in speed from being back at work. No more long, languid writing days at home; now I have to ration my time again, and that has an effect on the creative flow.
The one aspect of my life that still remains quiet is the SCA side of things. I have done some clothing adjustments during this quarantine/social distancing/no in-person events time, but not as much as I delusionally told myself I would. I have two dresses resized and taken in to my new, smaller frame, both embroidered, and one tunic top with new trim sewn onto it (that still needs to be taken in). Perhaps I’ll work harder at those and let Book 2 sit in time-out for a while. Maybe that’s what it needs.
Let’s see, what else? Father’s Day is coming up; gotta find a gift idea. (Dad usually doesn’t have much that he needs/wants, so that’ll be fun.) Sister’s birthday is next month, too, though that might be easier to find something for.
I guess that’s about it. My brain can’t find anything else at the moment, anyway.
I’ll get back on track. I know this is Week Four back at work, so I should theoretically be back on track by now, but give me a break: I’m not used to five weeks of peace followed by a rapid-fire reintroduction to the workforce.
Soon things will settle down. I’ll be okay. I’ll survive.
My mind is racing. Heart’s pounding. Everything’s on fast-forward and slo-mo at the same time.
Hello, Mania. We meet again.
I think I caught it quick this time. I took something (that is prescribed for me to take during the day) to calm me down before I go crazy at work today. Can’t be manic like this and then go into a busy doctor’s office to work 7+ hours. That doesn’t jive–it’s a recipe for an hours-long anxiety attack for sure.
Did I miss a dose of something? Don’t think so. I think I just got excited at a writing breakthrough, and my mind rode the wave past the breaking point. I’m still on that damn wave, and it’s quickly growing into a tsunami of emotional energy.
I might call my doctor tomorrow morning before work. See what he recommends. I mean, I’ve been noticing more of these manic episodes slamming into me lately, so it’s probably a good idea to call him, even though it’s a month before my next appointment. Besides, I’ve been on the same antidepressant for years and years; maybe it’s time for a change.
On the plus side, I had a writing breakthrough this weekend! I’m now a little more than a third of the way through the current WIP of import (powered through ~4200 words over the course of about a day and a half), with a growing list of “gonna write”s piling up. I’ve tentatively joined two more boxed sets, one of which will have a story that takes place in the Abnormalverse, and I’m almost halfway through the Bargains Struck series’s first drafts.
I’m excited for The Mage Asylum‘s release next month, too. Twenty-three days, people! I’ve gotten giveaways set up for it, as well as games and stuff for the virtual release day party. I don’t expect the party to be well-“attended,” but I’m hoping the people who do show up have some fun.
Part of my mental backlash could be the release of tension from my unemployment for the three weeks I was without work or pay finally coming in. It was a huge weight off my shoulders, so with my spirit being so much lighter, it probably contributed to the new emotional state I’m in right now.
Still over half an hour until I have to leave for work. That means this bursting-at-the-seams feeling has a little more time to cool down after that pill. Good.
Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to do to distract myself from the feeling until then. I’m all ready for work, just have to kill time.
I don’t know why, but I’m reminded of that Spoon Theory deal right now. You know the one. Here’s the quick and dirty Google/Wikipedia search definition, in case you didn’t know: “The spoon theory or spoon metaphor is a disability metaphor, a neologism used to explain the reduced amount of mental and physical energy available for activities of living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness.”
Basically, people are given a set amount of “spoons” with which to cope with shit, and when you run out of “spoons,” you run out of energy. I was chatting with a friend the other day, and I joked that I have three of those little sugar serving spoons for tea, and that’s it. She agreed, and she said that I use them for work, home, writing. Well, shit. What about mental health? Physical health? Non-work/writing/home-related activities? No wonder I was so tired when the SCA was having activities; I had used up my spoons and was running on empty all the time.
I gotta find a place to purchase more spoons. Or trade mine in for bigger ones. Something.
Anyone got any old spoons around they’re not using?
The world is in chaos. The country is in shambles. People everywhere are rallying to their cause of choice. Lines are being drawn. Choices made. People are making a stand, for good or bad, for what they believe in.
Except for me.
It’s not that I don’t care about what’s going on. It’s not that I don’t have feelings one way or the other about what has happened and what continues to happen. But I just can’t seem to make myself care enough to take action.
This isn’t the first time the nation has been in outrage while I sit at the sidelines, silent. It probably won’t be the last. And it makes me wonder if something inside, some part of the human brain that makes such caring possible, isn’t a little broken.
I don’t feel to the depth that others do, especially not about matters that don’t directly affect me. It’s like I’m detached, separated from the reality that’s happening around me. Like an out-of-body experience. I’m there, but I’m not here. Or maybe I’m here but not there. I guess it all depends on where “here” is, and your frame of reference.
I’ve got friends who are going to protest tonight. They’re marching to the police station. They’re rallying. Bringing water and snacks and everything. Me? I’m going to go home from work and crash. Change out of my scrubs. Get on the couch. Open up my laptop. Cruise the internet, or maybe write. Who knows. But I just don’t have it in me to care enough to want to march for the cause.
Does that make me a bad person? Am I terrible for not wanting to go join them? Or is it just that broken part of me that can’t be fixed by normal means?
I may never know for sure. That little bit of doubt is enough to make me feel a little bit bad about it, but not to make me get up off my ass and affect change.
Maybe someday there will be a cause that will light that fire inside me. Maybe I’ll find the cause to rally behind.
I’m not a political person. Really, I’m not. I’m a head-in-the-sand person. Duck and cover, hide away from the bad, and focus on the microcosm of my own little life.
It was depressing enough with all the COVID-19 bickering. Wear a mask, don’t make me wear a mask, non-mask-wearers are idiots, mask-wearers are sheeple, blah blah blah. Now, with the Floyd George tragedy and the resulting explosion of politically-motivated violence and rioting, even in my microcosm I can’t hide.
It’s everywhere. My Facebook feed is flooded with Black Lives Matter and “I kneel with them” interspersed with all sorts of horrendous news. COVID-19 spawned memes; this is spawning hate.
Now, you may think “Hey, I’m in favor of BLM! I support the cause! I’m protesting for peace!”
The rioting that’s going on nationwide is not peaceful.
The protesting that’s going on is not necessarily helpful, either. I mean, there was a gaggle of Gen Y’ers standing outside Wal-Mart the other day, holding up their signs of “No justice, no peace!” and chanting. A small-town Wal-Mart is where they chose to make their stand against the oppression of “the man.” Seriously? Let me guess: they were too chicken to protest outside the police station.
That’s who everyone’s really mad at, right? The cop that killed Floyd, and the way it was handled, and the media sensationalism that’s stoking the fires.
I’m just so tired of seeing it all. The COVID I could handle, because it’s something people couldn’t really “fight,” so they dealt how they could. I was lucky enough to have friends who are, for the most part, smart enough to see the reason behind the restrictions, and who actually listen to science. The few who argued or pushed their views got put in either a 30-day Facebook “snooze” or on a permanent unfollow, depending on the severity of annoyance. I won’t unfriend someone just because of their political views–unless they’re just really out there–but I’m also not going to subject myself to an endless feed of depression and anger when I have enough mental health issues going on already.
The problem? My friends are more vocal about BLM and the protests. More of the articles are being shared, more photos, more diatribes and outbursts. Facebook is no longer my “safe” place, my place to see memes and cute comics and funny anecdotes. I can’t snooze and unfollow everyone. Then I’d have no feed left. And there are some friends who, even when they’re being vocal about their views, I still want to see show up in my feed. So what am I going to do?
For now, I’ll vent here. I’ll type up my frustrations, then hide back in my little writing hole, where the worst of my current problems is how to start Chapter 7. I’ll scroll past the bad and share the funny and the good.
I go back to work today. I’m sure the patients will have their own strong views that they will probably share with or argue about with other patients–and possibly staff. My coworkers might have strong views. I might be going right back into another Facebook situation, only I won’t be able to snooze anyone.
My mind has been unsettled the past couple of days. There’s just too much.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t support oppressed minorities. I’m not saying I don’t think what happened to Floyd George is tragic and senseless. I’m not saying I in any way condone it. What I’m saying is, maybe we need something new. A separate media platform for politics, maybe? Better filters for the news feeds? I don’t know what the solution is. All I know is it’s not helping my mental state.
Come Monday morning, I’m back to the land of the working. What does that mean for my writing? Well, it means I’m back to the early-a.m. writing sessions and sneaking moments on break or in the evenings to get some words in.
Pact with the Pack came to me hard and fast, less than a month for the first draft, but I’m only on Chapter 6 of Fed by the Fae, which means it’s going to take much, much longer. Dealing with Demons is in the early planning stages, but it, too, will have to be written in stolen moments. So why have I chosen this year as the deadline for all three to be completed? Maybe I’m a masochist. Maybe I’m dreaming. But maybe, just maybe, I believe I can do it.
I’m giving myself six months to finish drafting, revise, get someone to edit, revise some more, find some betas, format, and publish.
Six months. Half a year.
Can I do this? My usual turnaround for one novel (oh yeah, these are longer than the novellas for The Mage Asylum Trilogy) is one to two years, give or take. And I’m thinking I can pull off three in roughly half a year.
We’ll see. This is my accountability, though. This is me, telling the universe that I’m going to do this. This is me saying “Get off your ass and write, bitch!” Well, I mean, I’ll have to get on my ass to write, because I hate writing on my phone (unless I’m inspired and simply can’t get to my laptop), so writing standing up is a no-go.
Who knows, though? Maybe I’m getting better. Maybe I’ll get them done and be able to move on to the fourth Abnormal book. Maybe I’ll get that done, and move on to the next project, etc. I’ve got a bit of a list going….
Oh, that’s right…I also have Book 3 of Abnormal in the works. I mean, it’s in the publisher’s hands, so when that comes into play is up in the air, but yeah…I got a workload ahead of myself.
I’m trapped between two worlds, and I don’t know what more I can do to get out.
I asked my rheumatologist, who had taken me off work due to my autoimmune condition and COVID, if I could go back once the Stay At Home order was lifted. I called and left a message two weeks ago. I left a message the next day. And the next. And the next. Then it was the weekend, then that Monday through Friday I called again. No response, and no answer.
I tried again every day the next week. One of the days I got a person, who claimed they would message the doctor with my request and get back to me. No response.
Last Friday, I couldn’t even leave a voicemail because their box was full. I drove over an hour and a half to their office, went in, and asked if I could get an answer. I was told they’d put it on the doctor’s desk. I said I’d wait, and then I was told the doctor “didn’t have time to talk to me.” I said I’d still wait. I talked to the office manager. I was told I’d get a response maybe by the end of the day, maybe yesterday afternoon. (Monday was a holiday.)
Yesterday, my office still hadn’t gotten a response in the morning. I called their office right away, because it was early and I hoped to reach a person instead of a voicemail. I did get a person, and was told that it would be by the end of the day.
Around 3pm, I actually received a phone call from my doctor’s office! It was them calling to let me know that, before the doctor signs a release for me to go back to work, I must sign a waiver clearing her of liability should I contract COVID while at work. I had them fax it to my office, I went to work, and I signed and returned the fax.
Today, at about 9:20, my boss texted me to notify me that they still had NOT received the release that I can go back to work. An hour and a half (and nine unsuccessful phone calls) later, and no response, no answer.
Now, with the countdown to the cutoff for me to be able to work this afternoon ticking away, my inexplicable anxiety from early this morning now has an explanation. I should’ve known it was too simple. Just fax a waiver, and I’ll be able to work? Yeah, right.
I want to go back to work, but I can’t without that release. I want to talk to the doctor’s office to get them to fax it, but I can’t get an answer. I want to be able to stop panicking about money, because I also cannot get hold of a person–or even a voicemail–at the unemployment office.
Stuck in limbo, with no way out and no way back. I can’t undo the past five weeks of being off work, can’t go back to work, can’t do anything until I get a person on the phone.
I’m terrified of what might happen if I can’t go back to work. I’m terrified of what will happen if I can’t get through to unemployment to find out why I’m not getting paid. I’m terrified of what I might do if this madness continues.
Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get through before lunch time and be able to go in this afternoon. Maybe, if I’m less lucky, they’ll fax my release before the end of business today and I can go back tomorrow.